Thursday, September 1, 2016
Cassette Review: Letters of Utrecht "Presence" (Still Heat Recordings)
[£3 // Edition of 50 // https://stillheatrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/presence]
Letters of Utrecht uses various forms of strings to create a cassette called "Presence" which takes us on a journey of really what strings are all about on the whole. It begins with dark strings, a boiler room type of ambient feel where the cello is just so deep that it makes you feel sad and lonely. When you think you have this pegged as a collection of sad songs, the guitar comes in and kind of throws everything off in your preconceived notions. It just expands into something else and it becomes rather beautiful. I've heard these types of sounds separately before but never pieced together quite like this before.
The sounds of darkness begin to hint at a certain amount of trouble. The guitars, which followed the cello previously, now find themselves joined by the earlier string arrangements. A sound of light grinding, almost morphing can be heard and it just becomes atmospheric at its core. This brings out a rock n roll type of guitar riff on the next song. It's got this surf vibe to it, such as one would hear on "Wipeout", and yet somehow the song doesn't feel out of place even though it can seem like a drastic change just as I read the words back now.
Quieter cello waves close out Side A as we are taken into Side B which begins with distorted rock and roll guitars. Tribal drum beats find hints of vocals in this otherwise mainly instrumental cassette. We then dive back into the ambient, back into that mood music which is somehow taking me to less of a dark place the second time around and more just into a calm. It almost has this old-timey piano feel to it though I can still hear the delicate plucks of the guitar strings and more obvious strums. The chords grow more powerful as they reach their conclusion at the end of the cassette.
I've heard cassettes before that focused on being mostly made with guitars. I've also heard cassettes that go into this dark place which could be called ambient (and to an extent even begin to drone) that use strings such as heard here. It is not only rare though that I've heard the two combine (I'm not sure I have heard them together before, but feel like I must have at some point) but in such a way that you could bring out these surf type guitar riffs and I know I have not heard anything such as that ever before.